The British Army has begun work on fielding the newest Version 6 variant of the Apache attack helicopter into frontline service.
Fifty Apache AH-64E Version 6 aircraft have been purchased from the United States to provide an aviation capability that will be a key element of how the Army fights in the coming decades, as set out in the Future Soldier program.
The AH-64E replaces the Apache Mk.1, which entered service in 2001 and proved itself as a battle winning asset on Afghanistan and Libya.
The Boeing-built AH-64E features new drivetrain and rotor blades to boost flying performance; improved sights and sensors; communications systems to share data with other helicopters, uncrewed aircraft systems and ground forces; and embedded maintenance diagnostic systems to increase aircraft availability.
3 Regiment Army Air Corps, part of 1st Aviation Brigade Combat Team will be the first unit to field the AH-64E, with engineers and aircrew going on training courses in the USA to prepare themselves to operate the helicopter. The unit’s hangars at Wattisham Flying Station are busy with Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers soldiers conducting engineering checks on aircraft delivered from the USA, with flight testing now getting underway.
“The AH-64E Apache is a 21st Century attack helicopter that is more lethal, agile, survivable and integrated and will enhance the way the Army fights,” 3 Regt AAC’s Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Simon Wilsey said.
“What is key to the AH-64E’s improved capabilities is its ability to integrate with other ground and air assets, allowing us to share information so that we can find and strike the enemy before our forces are targeted themselves.”
“To get ready for the E model we’ve gone out to the United States to do a four-week training package to learn about the aircraft and its systems,” Avionics supervisor Corporal Luke Salvatore, who leads a team of REME soldiers maintaining the Apache’s radar, navigation, communication, and sighting systems, said.
“The new mission planning software on the AH-64E is far superior,” Communications specialist Lance Corporal Dylan Jones added. “It gives us a lot more accuracy in mission planning and gives the aircraft a lot more information, which makes it easier for aircrew to fly and fight the aircraft.